So you’ve been booked in for a roleplay job – an assessment day or a simulation training workshop – and you’ve got the brief spread out in front of you, making notes and reading through the details on your engagement letter. Venue – check… start time – check…  contact name – check… dress code… Dress code? Business Dress… So what exactly does Business Dress mean?

As a professional roleplayer, you know already that you have to run your own scripting, logistics, make up and wardrobe departments, using a whole range of costumes and props to help you help the delegates suspend their disbelief to completely engage with the process on the day.

Perhaps another look at the job details will help you decide what this dress code means… so you check again. Who is the client? What is the job for? Who is the character you’re going to be playing? What situation are you going to be simulating during the event?

The client is always a good starting point – a traditional, city banking institution for example, has a very different business dress code to a up and coming mobile phone company or a fashion retail organisation, so there’s a big clue at the start. Then you need to consider the type of event – is it a formal assessment day to recruit or develop staff or a casual, day out of the office, training workshop?

The character name and description should also give you some ideas… are you portraying the client companies’ own staff or senior management – or an external character… a customer, a client or a stakeholder? Finally, the brief itself needs to be considered – is it a review meeting, a complaint, a negotiation, a group discussion, a briefing?

If asked, our advice is always to over dress if you’re unsure – a suit jacket and tie can always be removed, or a jacket can be draped over shoulders and hair adjusted if it all looks more casual than expected when you arrive. It’s far harder to rescue a casual outfit – convincing a room full of smartly dressed executives that you are their boss or a high flying customer is a bit trickier in chinos and a t-shirt…

We often assume that everyone knows what we mean by Business Dress or Smart Casual Dress, but when new associates start working with us, we’re often asked to advise them about the sort of staple items they might want to keep handy for use as costume… for example, a good suit for both men and women is highly likely to be needed at some point, preferably a plain one that can be dressed up or down as required. You can then always take a tie with you if you’re unsure whether one will be needed or not.

Smart casual is a bit more of a minefield – our suggestion is smart trousers and a casual shirt, or a top with skirt or a day dress, the sort of thing you would imagine your character wearing in that situation. Casual Dress is anything goes – almost. This is the only time when jeans might be acceptable… but only clean and respectable looking ones!

With fashions and styles changing all the time, it’s often easier to say what isn’t acceptable for an assignment – so here is our short list of things to avoid – unless the brief particularly asks for them of course!

Don’t wear – Jeans, obviously comical socks and ties, t-shirts with logos, anything grubby or ripped, deep plunging necklines, flip flops, big or distracting jewellery, flimsy summer dresses, anything see through, bare legs for Business Dress, shorts and prop glasses with no glass in them (the delegate will spend the whole meeting wondering why)… and if you have any further suggestions, do let us know and we’ll add them to the list!

If you have any doubts at all, always check with your booker or your client. As a self employed practitioner, you represent your own personal brand on these assignments, as well as the professionalism and reputation of the organisation you’re working with – so try to dress the part whenever you can, to make it easier for the delegates to join in and fully enjoy the experience!










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